<a href="mailto:email@example.com">By BOB GRADY</a>
In any marriage, spouses are bound to say things from time to time that discourage, sadden or outrage their partner. In my particular case, for instance, there are five words I blurt out every now and then that send my wife into a state of depression that can take days to escape. Those five words are: "Oh, I can fix that."
I've had my successes, over the years, of which I'm justifiably proud.
Every time I pass by the upstairs hall light, I look up admiringly and say to myself, "I changed that bulb."
I've crammed new washers into drippy faucets, delighted the family when there was some assembly required and even made a bookcase or two that didn't tip over, if you didn't set anything heavy on them.
On the other hand, I once gave myself a brush cut when I tried putting a new plug on a lamp. When I plugged it in, my hair stood on end and stayed that way for about a week.
My gloat level has dropped over the years, as my wife has pointed out little defects in my projects. Whereas I used to gloat over a roof I put on by myself or the hot-water pipe I installed, now I'm reduced to gloating when I dig a clump of leaves out of the downspout and restore the flow.
When I undertake a significant repair now, I'm doing what I call the preliminary work. In other words, I merely pave the way for the professional. I'll get the faucet off so he can install the new one without having to get his hands dirty.
But, while my winning percentage is only so-so and getting worse as my career winds down, I'm a Hall of Famer compared with my friend Casey Flynn. After 25 years of marriage, he's still looking for his first victory.
He once described his record on household repairs this way: "I always make it worse."
Well, not always.
One morning this summer, his wife, Beth, surprised him by coming upstairs and announcing that there was no water emerging from the kitchen faucet. A man of Casey's level of experience would automatically ask this probing question: "Did you try turning it on?" At which point, Beth probably wondered why she had wasted that hard-won energy climbing the stairs.
However, answering in the affirmative, she awaited his next move, which was to confidently assure her, "I'll take care of it."
He threw on a pair of shorts and appropriate footwear (which for Casey facing a plumbing problem might have been galoshes) and trudged downstairs to confront the predicament.
He looked over the offending device, as if mere examination would reveal the diagnosis. When it did not, he did some perfunctory tinkering, checking by hand to make sure all the fittings were tight.
That intelligence secured, he took a look under the sink. Careful study there turned up that there were two pipes, each apparently leading to a faucet, and that big, curvy drain going back down. What goes up must come down. Every good plumber knows that. Then there was the hose that led to that squirty thing in the sink, there. Nothing out of the ordinary under here.
He went down cellar to take a look at the maze of pipes under the floor and discovered it was still there. So far, so good.
The good repairman is creative. If a solution doesn't immediately emerge from preliminary investigation, it is he who always invents one out of whole cloth.
Casey Flynn saw immediately what needed to be done and sprang to it at once.
He went straightaway to the kitchen and opened the window above the sink.
Then he went to the garage and seized the nozzle, which he screwed confidently onto the end of the garden hose. He carried that nozzle, now ready for action, to the kitchen window and stuck it through from the outside.
He went inside and gave it a squirt into the sink -- good as new. He proudly hollered upstairs: "You've got water."
Casey and I are valued highly around our respective houses. He feeds the dog, and I feed the cats.